Changes underway for the Department of Human Services inspection procedure

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Changes are officially underway for the Department of Human Services inspection procedure. However, a new discovery was made about an inspection that occurred at the Harris Family Daycare.

JET 24 Action News’ Chelsey Withers has more about what one local senator believes should happen next.

Based on the Department of Human Services inspection reports requested by Erie State Senator Dan Laughlin reveals the Harris Family Daycare had over 100 violations over the course of six years.

“If you’re one of the persons that goes in and inspects these places, I think they need to take it seriously.” Laughlin said. “I am not saying that they don’t, but obviously we had a tragedy that fell through the cracks here.”

An example of that falls is an inspection that occurred in January 2016. One inspector wrote “Staff one could not locate the fire extinguisher or locate the smoke alarms.” At the time of this report, a course of action to address the issue was written. However, it’s unknown if there was any follow-up.

Senator Dan Laughlin further explained that the blame for this tragedy should not be placed on the daycare owner.

” She too is a victim in this because even though it was a daycare that she was running, if the government agency tasked with keeping those kids safe had done there job, she wouldn’t have the grief that she is probably feeling right now.” Laughlin said.

In addition, the Erie Fire Department was not notified that an issue was found.

“When I talked to the official the day after the fire, they told me they didn’t have to notify us for any violations that they may have come up with. Now that’s changing.” said Guy Santone, Chief of the Erie Fire Department.

Fire inspections are now a part of state inspection. The City of Erie is taking an extra step to ensure safety in child care facilities as well.

“We’re working on a new ordinance that will cover anything that the state wouldn’t cover,” Chief Santone said.

That ordinance is still being worked on and there is no time frame yet on when that will be presented to City Coucil. Senator Laughlin explained that when he returns to Harrisburg next week, he will ask Secretary Miller how they can expedite the process of checking all of these daycare centers.

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